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Where to go to relax, have fun, avoid bugs/humidity

Where to go to relax, have fun, avoid bugs/humidity

Old Jun 19th, 2006, 01:10 PM
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Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 21
Where to go to relax, have fun, avoid bugs/humidity

This is a cross-post from the Weddings & Honeymoon board. Since we are sort of leaning towards the Caribbean, I'm reposting here.

I have been doing a lot of research only to become overwhelmed by the choices, so I thought I'd come here for a little help. I am planning my honeymoon, and I'd like to hear your recommendations on something like a beach resort that isn't much more than an 8-hour flight from the DC Metro area, in a climate that isn't super humid and swarming with bugs. I'm scared to death of bugs so the less likely I am to encounter swarms of them, the better.

My husband-to-be and I are planning to go in March 2007, although we are fairly flexible on the timeframe. On a scale of $ to $$$$$, we're looking to spend $$$$ or less.

My ideal spot is somewhere that we can relax by the pool or on the beach, but will also have the option of watersports and some easily accessible evening entertainment. (Although we're late twentysomethings and are past the all-night clubbing phase, so dance clubs aren't important at all.) If it helps to explain my style, I went on a Carnival cruise to the Eastern Caribbean a few years ago and really enjoyed it - that's sort of the type of atmosphere I'm looking for, just not on a cruise.

If you could point me in the right direction, I can continue to research. I'm just looking for some suggestions to at least narrow it down to what state/country to consider!

Thanks SO much!
PhotogSusan is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2006, 01:30 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 929
If you liked the activity of a Carnival Cruise, you probably should look into an AI for couples -- such as the Sandals resorts. Everything else in the Caribbean would most likely be too quiet/too boring for you. Look into Jamaica, Playa Del Carmen or the Dominican Republican. I don't think the humidity will be a problem in March but if you choose a resort that is not couples only, beware of spring-breakers in these destinations. Another suggestion might be Aruba -- there are casinos and some clubs.
All the romantic Caribbean resorts that I would recommend for a honeymoon are extremely quiet at night with dinner and perhaps some music being the main evening activity. One you might like because it is a bit more activeis Royal Hideaway in Playa Del Carmen.
eileen is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2006, 02:03 PM
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Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 21
Thanks for the suggestion! I actually have looked into Sandals, and the many mixed reviews online (here and at tripadvisor.com) are what lead me to ask for direct input instead. : ) I got confused as to what to expect from a Sandals type place. I'm so worried about spending a ton of money and not being happy with where we're staying especially since you're sort of "stuck" at a resort once you're there. Then again, I've never been to a resort so I don't really know what it's like. For this trip I just sort of liked the idea of not having to do much planning once I'm there, because I tend to be an over-planner.
PhotogSusan is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2006, 02:07 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I think one of the AI's in Jamaica would fit the bill. Sandals even teaches you how to dive if you don't already know. You won't find jet skiing, but most of the other water sports are included. I would go early in March to stay away from too much of the warmth and check into the spas as well. They are extra but a nice way to unwind after a wedding.
Knowing is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2006, 02:38 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 4,870
Can you give us a more specific range of what you would ideally like to spend per night, accommodation only? Your $$$$ may be quite different from the points of view of various folks here.

You will be traveling in high season, and also during spring break week, so if you'd like to avoid college-aged crowds, perhaps you should steer clear of Jamaica, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic--these are the least expensive destinations in the Caribbean, and as such, you will find larger crowds. Which is not to say that you couldn't find a marvelous place to honeymoon in those spots--Royal Hideaway in Mexico and The Caves in Negril, Jamaica, come to mind as exceptions to the rule. But they are both on the pricey side, which is why we need to know more specifics about your budget.

I agree with the previous posters that an all-inclusive resort might suit you best since you enjoyed your cruise so much. Was there a particular island you saw that intrigued you and made you want to see more of it?

I would personally steer clear of the Sandals chain and look for another AI that offered a better value for the money. Lots of folks like Sandals, including many folks on this board, but I'm definitely not one of them.

Bugs will be an issue wherever you go, but not an overwhelming issue. You will find mosquitos and no-see-ums on every island. They're usually at their worst at dusk and right after a rain, but a little bug spray with DEET should keep them at bay. It's the tropics, so you'll either have to stay inside the whole time, or learn to deal with seeing an insect or two...or twenty.

In my experience, humidity has been fairly uniform based on latitude, but is more affected by the time of the year. March is a relatively dry time of year for the Caribbean. Either way, you would be most comfortable with air conditioning in your room. No matter where you go, it will be less humid than the DC Metro area in summertime, and much more comfortable because of the trade winds.

Without knowing more about your budget, here are some nice suggestions that are either AI or offer full meal plans as part of their rate, and you only pay extra for your beverages:

Biras Creek on Virgin Gorda www.biras.com

Galley Bay on Antigua www.galleybay.com

Jalousie Plantation on St. Lucia

The Caves in Negril, Jamaica www.islandoutposts.com

Couples Swept Away or Couples Negril in Negril, Jamaica www.couples.com

Long Bay Resort on Torgola www.longbay.com

Coral Reef Club on Barbados

Nisbet Beach Resort on Nevis www.nisbet.com

Four Seasons Resort on Nevis

Bucuti Beach Hotel on Aruba www.bucuti.com

ejcrowe is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2006, 03:43 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 204
When planning a trip 4 years ago, our travel agent suggested Sandals. We'd heard of it, and weren't sure if it was worth the price.We saw many many negative reports about it, so we almost decided against it. But the travel agent had been there and thought we might like it. Now I must say, it does not have that quiet Caribbean flair, as other places we have been, and the Sandals logo is in the pool and on the sea wall,perhaps a little tacky, but if you look past that, it might be just what you are looking for, she said. So off we went to Sandals Antigua for 2 weeks July/August 4 years ago and LOVED it...so much we returned the very next December and also loved it, even though it had only been four months since our first trip.. Included is water skiing, kyacks, paddle/peddle boats, sailing, scuba, snorkeling trips etc. You could take a snorkeling boat trip everyday included in the price, scuba every day if certified, and you could get partial certification there. I water skiied every day. Several boat trips and picnics were included as well.There is a main pool with lots going on everyday if you like that sort of thing, but many quiet pools around the property too. You can do as much or as little as you like, be alone or meet fun people. We danced every night after dinner, and, if you can stay awake after beaching it all day, there is a late night piano bar. It can be quiet and romantic, or a fun, active time too.

The food was good. I had shrimp and lobster nearly every night ....No bugs there.
We also went to Sandals Regency in
St.Lucia one April, and enjoyed that too, although the beach was red flagged all week due to rough water so we shuttled to the Sandals Grande and the Sandals Halcyon, but that was inconvenient.(but we still loved it...we are easy to please though.) Also no bugs there, even though the property is very lush and green.

At both resorts, we loved getting a bottle of champagne every night, included in the AI arrangement, to take to our balcony to enjoy as we got ready for dinner.
On all the trips, we took advantage of several snorkeling trips, sunset cruises, and jeep tours...some included, others not, but easily arranged.
Also you can ask to have a photographer follow you around for a while and only purchase pics you like or buy the cd and print at home. There are so many great photo ops there. People line up on the beach for a sunset picture. We have one we love ($5)..and of course you can use your own camera too.

We recently went on another trip and I had to twist my husband's arm to go someplace new. We had a great laid back vacation there, but we'd both go back to Sandals in a heartbeat. We felt that when we added up what we would have spent paying separately for food, drinks, champagne, boat trips, etc., it was a fairly good value.
.... check it out; you might like it. We are always treated well at Sandals.
toppy is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2006, 04:34 PM
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Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 21
Thanks so much for all of your responses! This is really helpful information. As for our budget, we're trying to stay around the $5000 range for six or seven nights. So I think The Caves and the Royal Hideaway are a little out of our range.

Although I just looked at the Royal Hideaway - oh my gosh. Gorgeous. It might be worth shortening our trip to fit it into our budget because it looks like such a beautiful place to stay, and it's close to a city if we grew tired of the resort.

Thanks again, SO much, for giving me a few more ideas. I really appreciate it.
PhotogSusan is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2006, 04:36 PM
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Oh and toppy, I'll continue to look into Sandals - it sounds like you had such a great time there, and like it's the combination of fun/relaxation that we're looking for. Thanks for the review!
PhotogSusan is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2006, 05:17 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Lots of folks rave about the pool at Rex Grenadian on Grenada, and about the pool and beach at the Grenada Grand Hotel. I don't know the websites for either one, but lately there have been outstanding prices available at both places on sites like www.hotels.com because they're trying to fill the rooms. Grenada is nearly fully recovered (from a tourist's perspective) from the vicious hurricanes of the last two years and it might be worth it to check it out for the values there.

I've noto been there yet, but I've got my first trip planned there for next month. I was seeing crazy prices like just under $200/night for all-inclusive pricing. I ended up going the villa route instead, but it might work splendidly for you. Keep in mind that March prices would be higher anyway because of the season, though.
ejcrowe is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2006, 08:04 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
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My brother honeymooned in Aruba and reports it is on the arid side and the wind is almost always blowing. I have discovered that where there's wind there's much fewer bugs. They just get, well, blown away. Aruba has enough social activity going on too. I think it is also less than 8 hours for you.
Tuxedocat is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2006, 05:14 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
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Not sure if this will help, but here goes! ej and the others have given excellent advice. We love Nevis, which was mentioned. Actually, I will be headed there in 46 hours, but who's counting??? Just a thought...we did an AI and I really feel that it keeps one from getting the real island experience. DH and I felt compelled to stay at the resort and we ate way more that we normally would have. Usually we have coffee in the am, light lunch and a late dinner, so the AI offered way too much food for us, but once you have paid the $$, you feel obligated to go. I felt that we missed out on getting to local restaurant and mingling with the locals. On the other hand, you might prefer having the dining issue out of your hands for a honeymoon. Hard decision. I prefer having the freedom to choose where and when to eat. Another option, that is also nice, is to get the breakfast plan, if the place that you are staying offers a buffet in the am, and then you can choose your other options on your own. I have heard great things about Barbados and St. Lucia, as far as honeymoons go. We did enjoy Aruba, although it is more Americanized than the islands that we love (St. Kitts/Nevis). Aruba has a lot to do and the breeze, as someone mentioned, will keep any bugs far from you. Good luck!
iw is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2006, 06:03 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Look into Secrets Capri along the Riviera Maya, Mexico. It's an adults only AI.
schmerl is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2006, 06:23 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
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I am a big Nevis fan (we went there for our honeymoon), but I think it is too quiet if you are looking for more of a fun party atmosphere. So I think Nisbet Plantation, 4 Seasons, and Biras Creek on Virgin Gorda are not the best options for you -- though they are all wonderful resorts.
JimC is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2006, 09:32 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
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jw I totally agree with you. The AI experience does take away from the island feel a bit, and the only locals we mingled with all worked at the resort. We learned a lot from them though and still communicate with 2. We didn't feel compelled however to stay at the resort, and left it sometimes, but, as you said, not as much....also, after staying on the beach, and boating all day, I admit we loved not having to leave to decide where to eat. And I so so so agree about eating and drinking more than usual...I gained 4 pounds on our recent trip, probably due to the pina colada and margaritas more than the actual food! (and all the snorkeling didn't burn the calories I guess.)But it's vacation, and we always live it up!

Susan, jw is right .... Aruba is Americanized a lot. It has a totally different feel than other islands we have visited....more touristy. We have been 4 times, and there is always a nice breeze. We use it as a quick easy getaway when we need warmth and sunshine, not to mention teacher de-stressing time, so our trips have been Feb break and Christmas,making friends with all the other teachers there! We do AI there too, and do the water sports, but no longer tour around unless people we are with want to.
But PhotogSusan there are lots of iguanas that will hang out by your pool lounger in Aruba, some quite large, enough to cause my husband to put his legs up, ha ha! Harmless though, and there were signs saying not to feed them. It was hard for me to resist that, as well as finding the local cats. Not sure if you would think of iguanas in the same way as you do a bug.

toppy is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2006, 10:43 AM
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Haha toppy - iguanas are no problem. I'd probably get a kick out of that. Snakes, sharks, wild animals, reptiles - no problem. Bugs are just something else though. Reading some of the reviews on here about the "no-see-ums" is seriously creeping me out though. The idea of a bug that you can't see that bites and gives you hives is enough to give me nightmares!

On another note, I have a question about the AI resorts - I am not a big drinker. I can only see myself drinking one or two cocktails a day, if that. Is it worth it to plan a trip around an AI resort? I am totally going in circles, I know. : \

My biggest concern is that I wanted something easy to plan/manage, so I just immediately figured an AI resort was the way to go. Thoughts?
PhotogSusan is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2006, 11:43 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 488
Are you 100% set on Carib? Hawaii is a bit more than 8 hours, but could fit your bill.

Some of those Aruban iguanas were huge! Nothing tops the one I saw at Tulum in Mexico, though. Bigger than I, at least in those days.
cantstayhome is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2006, 12:04 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
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Susan, again, in my opinion, if you are not a drinker an AI is not for you. We do indulge on the margaritas and coladas that we normally wouldn't do at home since it is $$$ per day. Something to think about. St. Kitts is livelier than Nevis and you can easily take the ferry over for a day trip. So much to think about!!! Off I go to pack!!!

toppy...I am laughing over the teacher bit. School ended for me on Friday! WOHOO!!!!!!!!!
iw is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2006, 12:30 PM
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Actually, I'm not "set" on anything (except trying to avoid super-long flights), which is probably what makes this so difficult.

What I need is a quiz with a bunch of questions that will narrow down where we want to go! All of my travels have been where the destination was already planned (fiance's conferences, family trips, going to visit someone in Europe, etc.). This is the first time I've *chosen* my own destination and I'm clearly having a hard time.

Thanks again for your thoughts and recommendations! This is helping.
PhotogSusan is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2006, 01:34 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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You may well find that an AI would be a waste of your money if you're not a heavy drinker. A low-end rum punch is about $4.50, a high-end blended-type drink with top shelf liquor would be about $10-12.50. Rum drinks tend to be cheaper than, say, martinis or gins and tonic. but do keep in mind that sodas will probably run in the $1.50-3.00 range, and bottled water around that or a little higher. (All of these prices are in US dollars, by the way.)
Drinks, taxes, and service charges add up at the end of the week, and you may prefer to pay up front.

I'm not a big AI fan for lots of reasons--ranging from the economical to the political to the epicurean-- as I generally prefer to try out various restaurants and I don't always eat three meals a day. Which is not to say that you couldn't get out and explore other dining venues around the island if you do stay at an AI, but most folks don't like to pay out of pocket for an outside meal if they've already paid up front for it at the resort.

If you really liked the cruise atmosphere, you may well prefer an AI so that you don't have to worry about researching restaurants, making taxi arrangments--all of which has to be done ahead of time on most islands and not spur of the moment. At an AI, the most you have to do is stand in line to make a reservation at a particular restaurant.

AIs are definitely easier to plan and manage than a pay-as-you-go vacation. The caveat is that you pay up front for things you might not even use--tennis court, gym, alcoholic beverages, etc. And for me, the planning is one of my favorite parts, and I'd bet it is the same for most of the folks who post here. I'll spend dozens of hours reading and researching online for restaurants, daytrips, and other must-do activities.

The bottom line is that it's your honeymoon. Maybe an AI is the way to go. Maybe it's not. The more you tell us about the most important and least important aspects of your honeymoon, the better we'll be able to advise you.
ejcrowe is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2006, 01:46 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 4,870
Okay, here's a quiz for you to answer...

Do you prefer a lush, mountainous island with a beautiful interior and nice, but not quintessentially Caribbean, beaches? Or would you prefer an island that is more flat and arid, with stunning, white sand beaches that stretch for miles and water in a million shades of blue and green? There are also a small handful of islands that combine the best of both worlds.

For your nightlife, do you want dancing? Live music? Shows? Or chatting with other congenial travelers or locals in a casual bar setting?

Is snorkeling important to you? If so, where does it rank within the rest of your priorities? Ditto for other sports.

Is it important to travel to an island whose official language is English? What about Spanish, Dutch, or French?

DO you want to be able to explore the island at all? If so, do you want shopping? High end fashion or more like local artwork and souveniers? Are historical and cultural sites important to you? If so, how much?

Do you intend to rent a car while there? Use taxis? Local buses? Or not really leave the resort?

DO you want to be surrounded by mostly people your own age? All ages? Children? Not children under a certain age? Couples only?

DO you want an island that is easy to island hop from, so that you can see as much as possible?

Are you a foodie? Do you eat to live instead of live to eat? Do you mind eating at buffets? Or in the same restaurant for most meals? Would you enjoy or not enjoy food theme nights?

Do you want a spa on site? Gym facilities? Pool? Golf? Tennis?

DO you prefer something that is more luxurious or glamourous--marble bathtubs, Frette linens, flat screen tvs? Or more with a local color and flavour, a sense of place? DO you want a chain hotel, so that you have a good idea of what to expect?

What size hotel? More than 100 rooms? Under 50? How much privacy are you looking for? Would a free-standing cottage style room be ideal?

You've answered a few of these already, but ranking them in order of most to least important will help.
ejcrowe is offline  

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